Liberty Victoria is alarmed at the Prime Minister’s response to comments by the United Nations that various aspects of Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers contravenes the UN Convention Against Torture.
“The Prime Minister’s assertion that Australians are ‘sick of being lectured to’ by the United Nations is yet another attempt to belittle the bearer of bad news without honestly acknowledging what is in the report,” said George Georgiou SC, President of Liberty Victoria.
“In striking similarity to his attack on Professor Gillian Triggs, Tony Abbott has not sought to deny or contradict the substance of the allegations of abuse or torture. He is simply trying to deflect attention from them.
“The Prime Minister insults the intelligence of Australians if he thinks this attempt at a distraction will work.
“The United Nations is uniquely placed to comment on how we as a nation meet our obligations under human rights treaties to which we are a party.
In saying this, we note the comment of the special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez: "I think we in the United Nations also deserve respect and I wish the Prime Minister had taken my views on this more seriously and engaged with my rapporteurship more constructively.”
Mr Georgiou said Australians deserve leaders who respond to an unbiased report card constructively. “The Prime Minister's savage reaction reflects badly on how we are seen by the rest of the world”.
Liberty Victoria is concerned that Australia’s breaches of its obligations toward refugees and asylum seekers still continue.
“Australians are decent people. We care about one another. The basic findings of the UN report, and those of Gillian Triggs, are unanimous: our treatment of fellow human beings is extremely damaging. We are causing irreparable harm to people, including children, who suffer terribly on our watch.”